Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MAY, Samuel Joseph, reformer, born in Boston, Mass., 12 September, 1797; died in Syracuse, New York, 1 July, 1871. He was graduated at Harvard in 1817, studied divinity at Cambridge, and in 1822 became pastor of a Unitarian church at Brooklyn, New York He was early interested in the anti-slavery cause, wrote and preached on the subject, and in 1830 was mobbed and burned in effigy at Syracuse for advocating immediate emancipation. He was a member of the first New England anti-slavery society in 1832, and, when Prudence Crandall (q. v.) was proscribed and persecuted for admitting colored girls to her school in Canterbury, Connecticut, he was her ardent champion. He was also a member of the Philadelphia convention of 1833 that formed the American anti-slavery society, and signed the "Declaration of Sentiments." of which William Lloyd Garrison was the author. In 1835 he became the general agent of the Massachusetts anti-slavery society, for which, by a union of gentleness and courage, he was peculiarly fitted, and in this capacity he lectured and travelled extensively. He was pastor of the Unitarian church at South Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1836-'42, and became at the latter date, at the solicitation of Horace Mann, principal of the Girls' normal school at Lexington, Massachusetts He returned to the pulpit in 1845, and from that date till three years previous to his death was pastor of the Unitarian society in Syracuse, New York Mr. May was active in all charitable and educational enterprises, and did much to increase the efficiency of the public-school system in Syracuse. He published "Education of the Faculties" (Boston, 1846); "Revival of Education" (Syracuse, New York, 1855): and "Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict" (Boston, 1868). See "Memoir of Samuel Joseph May," edited by George B. Emerson, Samuel May, and Thomas J. Mumford (Boston, 1873).
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